The home of Uncommon Sense: Providing Clarity, Promoting Intelligence

Are We Getting Dumber?

There is a passage in the Hebrew Bible, located within what is referred to as the Wisdom Literature, that has always caught my attention. It’s found in the book of Proverbs, 23rd chapter, 7th verse. In the King James vernacular, it reads as follows: “For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he.”

It doesn’t surprise me that such a statement would be found in the Wisdom Literature, for there is much wisdom in that saying. What we allow to permeate our thoughts has a profound effect on what we become.

  • Jeff Bezos was obsessed with wealth. And that is his whole life.
  • Kim Kardashian was obsessed with fame. She got it.
  • Hugh Hefner was obsessed with endless sex. And look what he became.
  • Mother Teresa was obsessed with being charitable to the poorest of the poor. She made her mark in that arena.
  • Michael Jackson was obsessed with being the King of Pop. And so he was.

One of the areas that give an indicator as to what we think about concerns the questions we ask. Questions are our most potent intellectual tool – the most significant arrow in our intellectual quiver. The ability to both formulate and ask smart questions, meaningful questions, relevant questions that get to the heart of the matter, is very important for individuals but also for cultures and whole societies. Questions can be daring. Questions can be audacious. Questions can be bold!

But questions can also be inane. They can be foolish. They can be of low-value. And I see a lot of that taking place.

Let me be specific.

A friend of mine once alerted me to an online source called Quora. Although I’m no expert on it, my understanding is that people submit questions on various topics and then the people running Quora find “specialists” to answer those questions for the public’s viewing. Evidently there are many different topic areas, but somehow I got connected to the Boxing category. Thus, every day I am treated to questions like the following (the questions that follow are word-for-word the actual questions that are submitted – AND ANSWERED!)

  • Who would win in this boxing match, Prime Tyson or Prime Cooney?
  • Would Mike Tyson have knocked out Rocky Marciano?
  • Would Foreman stand a chance against Liston prime for prime?
  • Could prime Joe Louis overcome 1974 George Foreman?
  • Who would win in a fight between Roy Jones Jr., and Floyd Mayweather Jr., at 158 pounds?
  • Mike Tyson or Joe Louis in their prime?

Leaving aside for the moment that no one, not even a true expert or boxing historian, can calculate with any accuracy what would actually occur if such fantasy boxing matches were to take place. There are so many variables, such as mindset, physical conditioning at that moment, how one boxer reacts to myriad events in the ring, room temperature, the quality of the referee, focus, determination, chance, and luck – that no one can predict whether Tyson could beat Joe Louis when both are in their primes. They were not in their primes in the same era – they were decades apart. No one knows what would happen. It’s all guesswork. And even if we did know, so what? Does it really matter? Both Tyson and Louis were amazing boxers in their own right, each with very different styles, different advantages, etc. No one was a “finisher” quite like a prime Joe Louis. And a prime Tyson, with his 20-inch neck and raw, blazing attack instincts? The guy was an animal.

I wish I could say such thinking is limited to boxing, but it isn’t. It extends beyond the human species into the world of the fauna. Seriously. It does. Here are some equally irrelevant gems:

  • Who would win in a fight between a great white shark and an orca if they were both adults of exactly the same size?
  • Who would win in a fight between a leopard and a cougar?
  • Can a big cat, (tiger, lion, or jaguar) defeat the biggest dog?
  • Who would win in a fight between a coyote and a bobcat?
  • Which animal would win in a battle between a Wolverine and a Honey Badger?
  • Who would win in a fight between a tiger and ten hyenas?
  • If a Brown Recluse Spider were to encounter a Sydney Funnel Web Spider, which would come out on top?
  • Who would win in a fight: a Black Mamba or a Gaboon Viper?

I am sorely tempted to address such questioners as follows: “Who would win in a fight: you or me?”

Come on, people! Can we not come up with something with a bit more intellectual heft?

Ara Norwood is a multi-faceted and results-oriented professional. Spanning a multiplicity of disciplines including leadership, management, innovation, strategy, service, sales, business ethics, and entrepreneurship. Ara is also a historian, having special expertise on the era of the founding of our republic.
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